Ancient Maya Women
Edited by Traci Ardren
Publication date:20 December 2001
Length of book:320 pages
The flood of archaeological work in Maya lands has revolutionized our understanding of gender in ancient Maya society. The dozen contributors to this volume use a wide range of methodological strategies—archaeology, bioarchaeology, iconography, ethnohistory, epigraphy, ethnography—to tease out the details of the lives, actions, and identities of women of Mesoamerica. The chapters, most based upon recent fieldwork in Central America, examine the role of women in Maya society, their place in the political hierarchy and lineage structures, the gendered division of labor, and the discrepancy between idealized Mayan womanhood and the daily reality, among other topics. In each case, the complexities and nuances of gender relations is highlighted and the limitations of our knowledge acknowledged. These pieces represent an important advance in the understanding of Maya socioeconomic, political, and cultural life—and the archaeology of gender—and will be of great interest to scholars and students.
With a foreword from the eminent ethnographer, June Nash, and a broad concluding essay by W. Ashmore, Dr. Ardren introduces 10 thematic essays and case studies of archaeological, epigraphic and historical evidence for women's work and symbolic roles in the prehispanic period (with one paper venturing into the Colonial period too). Much of the evidence is from aristocratic contexts but four of the papers deal with domestic, agricultural and funerary evidence for ordinary people.